There’s an interesting tension arising among socially conscious consumers—especially Christians.
We are living in an era of artisanal boom. As a backlash against cheap, mass-produced products, many young consumers are embracing this resurgence in craftsmanship. You’ve probably seen them: In urban areas that have large millennial populations, it’s not uncommon to encounter everything from artisan coffee shops and boutique clothing stores to small art galleries or storefronts selling custom furniture.
There’s always been a market for quality, handmade items, but thanks to online hubs like Etsy and Pinterest, the trend has found a new kind of exposure that has fueled a small boom in craftspeople who sell their work to consumers they could never before reach. According to some research, the “Maker Movement” (described by USA Today as “a growing army of hackers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs”) pumps nearly $29 billion into U.S. economy annually.
The movement has grown so big, it has even become the subject of parody (like this segment about $65 artisanal lightbulbs from Portlandia) and the target of imitation, with big brands attempting to cash in on the trend (even McDonald’s has tried to sell an“artisan” burger).
There’s only one “downside” to the popularity of products made from quality materials and employ skilled workers and artists to make them: They are expensive.
AN UNCOMFORTABLE TENSION
There are no shortage of Bible verses that warn of the trappings of wealth and command followers of Christ to carry themselves with humility. We are told that in the kingdom of God, the last shall be first and the first shall be last. That we are to spend our time reaching out to “the least of these” and caring for the poor.
For many, this has been applied as a warning against the type of conspicuous consumption that measures social status and personal success on what kind of luxury items a person owns. As Peter says in 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
What message does it send if Christians—people called to serve the poor—spend obsessive amounts of money on designer items and expensive non-essential goods when there are so many needs in the world? In many ways, spending as little money as possible on yourself seems like an noble mindset.
But is there a danger to making frugality the ultimate consumerism virtue?
The answer isn’t as simple as it might seem.
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Source: Relevant Magazine